Ardie Maier entered Sunday's La Fiesta de los Vaqueros final as the nation's hottest bull rider.
In 5.8 brutal and muddy seconds he was rendered a statistic.
Little Lightning, a blonde bull as athletic as he is mean-spirited, bucked Maier almost three-quarters of the way into his ride during Sunday's final at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds.
In doing so, he kept the South Dakota cowboy from making history.
Little Lightning has yet to be ridden during his three years as a premier bull on the rodeo circuit. Maier's ride on a soggy, frigid Sunday was the longest any rider had survived atop the beast.
Unfortunately, there's no prize for that.
"I was really happy to have that bull," Maier said. "I was going to be the first guy to ride it. It didn't work out today, but, I'll tell you what, I'm ready for another match. I think I can ride him. I know I can ride him."
Little Lightning was part of an ornery "eliminator pen" in Sunday's final round.
Just four of the 12 contestants posted qualified rides on their bulls.
Cole Hermanson and Wesley Silcox won the final, and split the $6,000 purse with their two-round totals of 168. Rodeo veterans Mike Moore and Myron Duarte were among the eight bull riders who were bucked before their eight seconds were up.
Little Lightning, Aches & Pains and Tokyo Drift all lived up to their reputations as unridable bulls.
"They all bucked today," said Hermanson, who survived his ride on Crooked Nose. "I just beared down, and it worked out."
Silcox said despite the wet weather and high bucking percentage, "there was some good bull riding" in the final. He didn't mind splitting the money with Hermanson, a friend and longtime competitor.
"I'm always happy to see my buddies do good," he said.
Total scores were down Sunday, in part because an overnight rainstorm turned the rodeo grounds into a muddy mess. Workers and competitors were ankle-deep in mud throughout the day. The north side of the arena, near the Vaquero Club, turned into a brown pond a few inches deep.
Bareback rider Bobby Mote said braving the elements is part of rodeo.
"In major-league baseball, they roll a tarp out over the diamond and hide out in their dugouts until the rain passes. In rodeo, they just roll out and ride," he said. "People and fans know they're going to see a great rodeo - and they bring their umbrellas out."
Those who survived the rain and mud won both checks and throaty hoots from the 6,000 fans who crammed into the arena in ponchos and plastic-covered cowboy hats.
Kaycee Feild posted an 86 in the day's first event, bareback riding, to win the final with a two-day score of 174. Jason Miller followed by winning steer wrestling, posting a 7.5-second round to finish with a three-day total of 20.5 seconds. Jeff Willert (two-day total of 174) won saddle bronc, and Timber Moore (28.8 seconds on three head) took home the tie-down roping title.
The team of Charly Crawford and Russell Cardoza posted the day's best time (5.6 seconds) and aggregate time (18.4 seconds) to win team roping.
Canada's Lindsay Sears lived up to her reputation as one of the world's top barrel racers Sunday, posting an 18.86-second ride to win the aggregate with 53.57 seconds on three runs.
Sears' win set the stage for bull riding, the last - and most-anticipated - of the rodeo's seven events.
Maier rode Little Lightning last with hopes of making history. As the bull rider cleaned mud off his chaps and jeans, he vowed revenge.
One of these days.
"I rode him as well as anybody has," Maier said. "Next time, I'll ride him."